Matlock to Macclesfield - practicalities

1. Days needed
Three, including rail travel from London. Because we are walking across the Peak District, it feels like a big walk. [We did a variation (orange on the map) in June 2015, and this is described in square brackets. Unless you particularly want to visit Buxton, I recommend it!] The first day is shorter, to include travel time. We travelled back over the evening of the third day. The middle day is longish; the total distance is about 33 miles. There are ups and downs, but nothing lasts very long, and there are lots of levels too. There are quite a few good gastro pubs on the way.

2. Getting there and away
From London: Train St Pancras to Matlock; fast to Derby; then local train to Matlock (2½ hours).
Getting away: Train Macclesfield direct to Euston (2 hours).

3. Map
Ordnance Survey Map Explorer OL24 The Peak District, White Peak Area (1:25,000). This is essential, as this is not a standard path. Also there are plenty of alternative routes, depending on time, weather, degree of adventure desired, etc. In many places the little roads can be as picturesque as the paths, and are quicker and easier.

4. The route
I have listed walking times, as a general guide. We put together this route ourselves, from looking at the map, and inspired by the Nuttalls' love of the area. Occasionally we found our exploring had created mini adventures. If you're not comfortable doing this - please look for a more regular path!

Day 1: Matlock to Youlgreave. (1¾ hrs am; 2½ hrs pm.)
Train to Matlock. Cross the main road, and immediately L onto the path by the River Derwent. Walk upstream, past the Riverside Station, across the fields to Darley Bridge. We were planning to eat at the Three Stags Heads but it was unaccountably closed [must have been a Monday - had a lovely meal there on a Friday], and we weren't sure about the other pub over the bridge (it is the Square and Compass, and would have been open). So we walked on to Birchover, where we knew there were two good pubs: the beginning was uphill and slow, but later it was level and fast. Continue on into Oldfield Lane; climb up to Cowley Knowl and Clough Lane. Take the footpath just before Upperton Farm, going N, and then NW to Brookfield Farm. At the road, go L into Birchover.

Heading NE, take the footpath up the hill towards Barton Hill Quarries. Walk N a little on the road and find another footpath going R, onto Stanton Moor. The Nine Ladies Stone Circle is worth a visit; then head NNW to join Lees Road. L here, and then into Stanton in Peak. Stay on the little road to Park Farm, then R on a N path just after the Farm entrance, towards the Quarry (dis). At Tollis Wood, go S on the road (briefly), then W on a smaller road, branching off R on a footpath to Alport (we had originally planned to take the brown road along the Lathkill, but it was nasty). Here cross the river and take a path along the N bank going W. At the footbridge, go N, and up the lane into Youlgreave.

We had dinner at the Farmyard Inn; a nice main meal, followed by a gooey chocolate fondue. We stayed at The Old Bakery, Church St, Youlgreave DE45 1UR (Tel 01629 636887).
[2015: breakfast was so nice that we started later then we meant to on the long day 2.]

Day 2: Youlgreave to Buxton. (under 4 hrs am; 3 hrs pm.)
Wanting to get to Lathkill Dale, we took the little yellow road to Conkesbury, and after Conkesbury Bridge, we followed the N bank of the River Lathkill all the way to Monyash. We had nice coffee break at The Old Smithy tearooms here, but went on for a later lunch. Firstly we took Cross Lane, which joined with the Limestone Way. Go straight on at Flagg, along Main Road, L on the little road past Town Head Farm, and NW on the footpath towards Chelmorton. We got a bit lost here, but if you keep going NW you are bound to come to Highstool Lane or Flagg Lane. At Chelmorton we had a good lunch at the Church Inn.
[2015: after Monyash we took the Hutmoor Butts track off Cross Lane, to get to the Royal Oak, Sparklow - terrific meal. Then round High Wheeldon, to Earl Sterndale, wonderful path to Hollingsclough. We then struggled with paths, so recommend instead taking small roads to get faster and easier to The Knight's Table on the A53 - very good meal, bed and breakfast.]

Return back down through the village, to find a footpath between the houses going WNW, joining a couple of little green lanes S, and then W to the Sewage Works. Go L on the A5270 until you meet the bottom of Horseshoe Dale. Follow this N. We carried on into and through Deep Dale, but going L onto the Midshires Way into Buxton would have saved us an hour, maybe more. At the A6 go L for ⅓ mile where there is a footbridge to Woo Dale. Continue to the end of the Dale, which becomes a green lane. At Red Gap Farm we got lost again (you can't see Buxton from here), but eventually got to the Industrial Estate and the main road. A better way might be to go NW to Lowfoot Farm then L to Waterswallows Road. We stayed at the Kings Croft B&B, 10 Green Lane, Buxton SK17 9DP (Tel 01298 22757).

Day 3: Buxton to Macclesfield. (under 4 hrs am; under 3 hrs pm.)
Take the Macclesfield Rd westward out of town. At Burbage, go NW on Bishop's Lane, and find the footpath onto the moor soon after Edgemoor. Go through Beet Wood, and up to the dismantled railway. Then go down to Wild Moor, with Wildmoorstone Brook to your L. At the Errwood Reservoir, either cut off on a path to the L before the bottom towards Goyt's Moss, or improvise your way over 3 small feeder streams. Find your way to the Car Park by the Reservoir. If you go the Goyt's Moss route, walking back to the Car Park is still recommended if you have time, it's a lovely bit. Just before the car park, take the footpath climbing SW, with woods on your R. Near the top, branch off R to reach Shining Tor (well signed). Retrace your last climb, then turn R to go past Stake Farm to the road. Now you have a choice of pubs for lunch: the Cat & Fiddle or the Stanley Arms (both at SK11 0AR). We chose the latter, going R and then immediately L down the Old Buxton Road to Bottom-of-the-Oven.

We continued S, on small roads towards Macclesfield Forest, taking the minor road towards Trentabank Reservoir, and N of Ridgegate Reservoir to Clark Lane. Then join the Gritstone Way going N up Tegg's Nose. Come down to Teggsnose Lane, and turn L onto the Buxton Old Road (again). The paths we found didn't quite match those on the map, but the roads are labelled on both. Follow the road straight on to the station.
[2015: Roads and small roads through Flash and down to Gradbach; then path N to the Crag Inn, Wildboarclough (another lovely meal). In the afternoon we went over Shutlingsloe (magical, with views everywhere, including north to The Cat and Fiddle, and not as hard as we had feared), then down to Macclesfield Forest, Trentabank and Langley (very well signposted). We didn't bother with Tegg's nose after Shutlingsloe, but took Coalpit Lane from Langley and into town. If you're looking for a meal in Macclesfield, go up to the Church.]

Jeremy Polmear, 2011 and 2015